October 23, 2003
You Better, You Better, You Betz

By Mike Eidelbes

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Ohio State senior Mike Betz, a three-year starter in goal for the Buckeyes, will never forget the final home opener of his college career. A nationally televised game, he had a prime vantange point for that night's contest against Notre Dame: on the bench.

One of the country's most durable netminders – he's made no fewer than 36 starts in each of his previous three seasons at OSU – the Elizabeth, Pa., native was benched that night in favor of sophomore Dave Caruso. Coach John Markell and his staff made the decision based on performances at the Lefty McFadden Classic in Dayton the previous weekend, where Caruso made 30 saves in a 5-3 win against Miami while Betz stopped 24 shots in a 5-2 loss to Denver.

"I talked to the coaches and they explained to me why I wasn't starting," Betz said. "I respected their decision to go with Dave. To be quite honest with you, I don't think I was prepared...and ready to battle and do what makes me best, which is play with intensity.

"I knew I'd get my chance again. I just wanted to make the best of it when I got back in there."

A thumbnail sketch of Betz making the best of it: He started the second game of the Notre Dame series, turning aside 30 shots in a 3-1 Buckeye victory. Last weekend, he made 47 saves on 48 shots as OSU claimed 5-0 and 4-1 decisions from host Michigan State, the first time in school history the team left East Lansing with a pair of wins.

"On the (eraser) board in the locker room, someone wrote, "Times OSU has swept Michigan State" and there was a big zero underneath," said Betz, INCH's reigning National Player of the Week. "I think all the guys took it upon themselves and said, 'We can do this...we can come up here and make Ohio State history.' We knew we were going to get their best shot on Saturday night, and I think our consistent, relentless commitment to the systems really enabled us to [sweep]."

Despite the loss of talented forwards R.J. Umberger and Ryan Kesler to the professional ranks – Umberger and the Vancouver Canucks, the team that owns his rights, have yet to reach a contract agreement – Betz contends that, more than any time in his OSU career, the Buckeyes' focus this season is on the team concept. He attributes his stellar play over the last three games to his mates "committing to little things" such back-checking and remaining focused on the offensive and defensive systems.

"It's a completely different atmosphere in the locker room, at the rink, at practice, during games...from the coaching staff on to the captains and down to (the rest of) the players," Betz explains. "Everybody is taking accountability for their actions, and we know that maybe we don't have as much talent as we did last year or the year before. But we feel we have a lot more character, a lot more grit and we can definitely go to the top of the league."


Lattery Will Get You Somewhere
– In this space last week, it was reported that Western Michigan forward Dana Lattery would likely miss the Broncos' series against Nebraska-Omaha because of a wrist injury. Unfortunately, we failed to heed one of the sport's cardinal rules: never underestimate the guile of a hockey player.

Unbeknownst to the college hockey world at large, the Broncos' senior captain had been skating in practice the entire week.

"I wasn't supposed to play," Lattery said. "I'm still not supposed to play."

Lattery was in the lineup last weekend and showed no ill effects of the wonky wrist. He scored a pair of goals in Western Michigan's 5-1 triumph over the visiting Mavericks Friday. The following night, the Cochrane, Alberta, native notched another goal and added an assist as the teams battled to a 2-2 draw. He was named CCHA Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts.

"The doctor said 4-to-6 weeks but I got a cast for it," Lattery explained, "so I decided to see what I could do and see if I could take hits. It didn't feel too bad. Throughout the week, the coaches said to take it day-by-day and see how it feels Thursday. Thursday, it didn't feel too bad. I felt that I could play."

Now that he's put the injury behind him for the time being, Lattery can focus on leading the Broncos in the team's quest for continued success. Western Michigan, off to a 2-1-1 start, can put to rest questions of legitimacy – or at the very least muffle them – by beating Michigan State at Munn Ice Arena Friday. The Broncos have been a tough out at home, but road success has been the team's Achilles heel.

"Look back to the (season-opening) Ferris State weekend where we got beat on the road," Lattery said. "I thought we could've beat Ferris State in both games. We want to...put it behind us. It's a big game for more reasons than one, and hopefully we'll get the road worries out of the way this Friday night."

Lattery hopes that once the team proves it can steal points away from home, it can tackle another elusive goal –- achieving postseason success. It's been 10 years since the Broncos have advanced past the first round of the CCHA Tournament.

"As a senior class, we've felt that every year we've done well but there's that sense of fulfillment that we've never had," Lattery said. "We feel that this year is our year to make something happen. We've had our moments, but at the end of the year we're left with a sense of emptiness.

"That's something we're going to definitely try to get rid of this year...and this is the team to do it."

Jordan Rules Friday's contest against Notre Dame began like most any other game for Bowling Green junior goaltender Jordan Sigalet. He stopped all 12 shots the host team fired in the first period. A fair amount of shots, yes, but nothing abnormal.

Over the next two periods, the pucks flew at Bowling Green net faster than flaming furniture after a West Virginia football victory. Sigalet made 22 saves in the second period, which ended in a 3-all tie, and turned aside 22 more shots in the final frame as the Falcons headed east on the Indiana Toll Road with a 5-3 victory in tow, the team's first win of the young season.

Sigalet, meanwhile, was the proud owner of a new school record. His 56 saves topped the previous best set in 1974, when Al Sarachman made 55 stops against Michigan State.

"It was pretty intense," said Sigalet of his herculean effort. "It keeps you in the game. I kind of like it in a way, when you're winning."

You'd think that, on a night when a goaltender faces 59 shots, there must have been some persistent defensive breakdowns. Not so, explains Sigalet.

"[My teammates] did a great job of letting me see (the puck) and clearing rebounds," Sigalet said. "But even when I couldn't see it, it was still just one of those nights where I could track the puck really well, even though traffic.

"I was doing anything just to fight to see that puck, and guys were doing anything to let me see it."

Ironically, the Falcons were beaten by Notre Dame, 3-0, at BGSU Ice Arena the following night despite outshooting the Fighting Irish by a 40-17 margin. Sigalet says it's just the sign of a young team trying to mature.

"We outplayed Notre Dame but couldn't get any goals on the board and lost,"Sigalet said. "There were so many signs of good things in that game and every game. There's just a couple little breakdowns every game at the start of periods or ends of periods. Once we get consistent for 60 minutes, that's when we're going to turn the corner and surprise a lot of people."

What shouldn't come as a surprise, however, is future stand-out efforts from Sigalet.

The Late Lake Show – Don't scoff at Lake Superior State's tie and win against Atlantic Hockey foe Canisius last weekend. For the Lakers – a team that's been down so long, Cincinnati Bengals fans call to offer support – any series that doesn't include a loss is a plus. Especially heartening to coach Frank Anzalone is the manner in which his charges earned its mythical three points.

On Friday, freshman forward Dominic Osman – is he a little bit country or a little bit rock-and-roll? – salvaged a 1-1 tie for the Lakers by scoring his first collegiate goal with 31 seconds left in regulation and goaltender Matt Violin pulled in favor of an extra attacker. In the series finale, LSSU sent the game into overtime when freshman forward Trent Campbell scored with 44 seconds left in the third period and Violin on the bench, and earned the win on sophomore forward Steve McJannet's goal 3:27 into the extra session.

"We should've been up by four or five goals on Friday, but their goalie played great and we rush everything," Anzalone said, referring to his young team's tendency to not let the play develop. "We were able to maintain composure, where a year ago we wouldn't have done that. We deserved it. We did deserve (to win)."

Pessimists would be quick to point out that the Lakers' opponent last weekend wasn't exactly a college hockey powerhouse. Irrelevant, says Anzalone, whose teams have won a total of 14 games in the last two seasons.

"It didn't matter who we were playing. We're still susceptible to things going wrong. But we're better now," Anzalone said.

How much better remains to be seen. The Lakers get a litmus test this weekend as they welcome Miami to Sault Ste. Marie. Anzalone is particularly concerned about the RedHawks' top power play unit, which he says is one of the nation's best. Lake Superior State's performance this weekend may shed light on whether the team can achieve its goal of escaping the CCHA basement and competing for eighth or ninth place in the league standings.

I think we've made huge strides," Anzalone said. "There are some qualities here that could become intangibles come January. We can play a little now."

Great Weekend Getaway
120x60 - Brand Red

Northern Michigan at Michigan (Fri.-Sun.): Goals will not be at a premium this weekend in Ann Arbor. The Wildcats and Wolverines have scored a combined 36 goals so far this year. Of course, they've also allowed a combined 32 goals. So the ensuing result should be scoring aplenty. The Friday-Sunday affair features two dynamic freshmen in NMU's Darin Olver and T.J. Hensick of Michigan.

While you're there: If you're stuck in Ann Arbor with nothing to do Saturday, you could try to obtain a ticket for that afternoon's Purdue-Michigan football game. Warning: if you weigh more than 160 pounds, you'll be uncomfortable trying to wedge your person into the Big House's 14-inch seats.

Stick Salutes

Michigan forwards Brandon Kaleniecki and Jeff Tambellini provided 82.5 percent of the Wolverines' offense against Quinnipiac last weekend. Kaleniecki netted four goals, including the deciding tally, in Friday's 5-4 win over the Bobcats. The following night, Tambellini picked up a hat trick in leading the home team to a 3-2 triumph.

One night after Sigalet's record performance, Notre Dame goaltender David Brown made 40 saves en route to a his first career shutout, a 3-0 victory at Bowling Green.

Bench Minors
The Miami Redhawks, who hung a snowman on Michigan – yeah, that Michigan – Oct. 10 were shut out by Air Force – yeah, that Air Force – at the Frontier Classic in Anchorage Saturday.

Have you seen the CCHA's non-league record? The conference's 12 teams have posted a combined 8-11-2 mark against non-league foes so far this season, a 42.9 percent winning percentage. Throw out games against teams from Atlantic Hockey, and that mark drops to 4-11-1 (28.1 percent). To borrow a phrase from Chevy Chase's character in Caddyshack, you...you're not good.


• With the economy being what it is, it's always nice to get some extra bang for your buck. Count ticketholders to last weekend's Michigan Tech-Northern Michigan home-and-home series among those earning extra value.

Friday in Marquette, forward Andrew Contois scored in overtime to give the host Wildcats a 4-3 win over the Huskies. The following night in Houghton, forward Colin Murphy scored four goals, including the overtime winner, as Tech rallied from a 6-3 deficit by scoring three goals in the last 2:05 of the third period to send the game into the extra session.

An exciting weekend, sure, but coaches, such as Northern Michigan's Walt Kyle, aren't likely to relish thrilling finishes, especially when they lose.

"It's something you don't want to happen, to give up three goals in the final three minutes," Kyle told the Marquette Mining Journal following Saturday's loss. "We need to get that group of sophomore defensemen to step on the ice and take charge and settle things down. When that happens, we're going to become a pretty good team."

• Leading the charge against profane chants at Yost Ice Arena: Red Berenson.

The Michigan bench boss, accompanied by his five-year-old grandson, implored Wolverine fans prior to Friday's game against Quinnipiac to curtail the use of profanity, especially one cheer served up when an opponent takes a penalty that sounds like an excerpt from a Warren Sapp soliloquy.

"I think it will go away," Berenson told the Michigan Daily. "I think the message is there, and I think there's a lot more people obviously that are offended by it."

The cheer in question was more subdued Friday and met with boos from some fans. On Saturday, however it was business as usual in Yost.

"The kids here are having fun, and they're trying to support the team," Berenson said. "But they know they're not going to get away with it. We're not going to tolerate it."

• They'll be celebrating in Sault Ste. Marie Friday night. We're not predicting a Lake Superior State victory over Miami that night – although the Lakers come into the series with better mojo than the RedHawks.

The 1973-74 LSSU icers – who won the NAIA championship that season – are being inducted into the school's athletics hall of fame this weekend. Whether the entire team will be there remains to be seen, but we're pretty sure the coach won't be able to attend. Rick Comley, now at Michigan State, is busy with a home-and-home series against Western Michigan.

• Finally, no question marks. No blurry images. Photos of the new Bowling Green home and road sweaters are finally available for everyone to see.

The home jerseys are, in fact, predominately orange and feature the school's Falcon logo on the front. The road jerseys are white with the school name emblazoned across the front. Of course, you could just look at the pictures posted on the school's Web site.

• If representatives of Michigan State's alumni fund were smart, they would've been in Edmonton and Nashville Saturday. When the Oilers hosted Colorado at Skyreach Centre that night, five former Spartans were on hand – Edmonton forwards Shawn Horcoff and Mike York, Oilers' assistant coach Craig Simpson, Avalanche forward Jim Cummins and Colorado rookie defenseman John-Michael Liles. Meanwhile, there were four ex-MSU skaters at Gaylord Entertainment Center the same evening. The Predators boasted forwards Adam Hall, Rem Murray and defenseman Andrew Hutchinson, who was summoned from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League that day. On the opposing bench was Columbus assistant coach Newell Brown, who not only played at State but also served as an assistant under Ron Mason.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report

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